June 2022

3 June 2022

After a long lead-in to the 2022 Federal Election, Australians cast their ballots on 21 May and elected a new Labor Government, with Anthony Albanese as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister. This week the Hon Jason Clare has been appointed as Minister for Education in the new Albanese Government’s Ministry.

The results show a fundamental shift in the Australian political landscape. The two major parties experienced significant swings against them, and we’ve seen a wave of climate-focused independent candidates and The Greens elected to represent a swathe of electorates.

The results have been examined in detail in the limited-edition podcast Below the Line, presented by La Trobe University in partnership with The Conversation. You can tune in to the final two episodes, featuring La Trobe PhD student Phoebe Hayman and Dr Bec Strating, Director of La Trobe Asia, to dissect the result and gain further insights into the new government’s policy agenda.

I’d like to congratulate La Trobe Associate Professor Dr Andrea Carson on the success of Below the Line. Hosted by former ABC radio presenter Jon Faine, the podcast achieved more than 100,000 downloads since the election campaign began, received strong ratings from listeners and generated interest across the mainstream media. According to The Conversation, Below the Line has been The Conversation’s most successful political podcast to date – congratulations again Andrea!

You may also have seen the news that Glyn Davis, formerly Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, has been appointed as Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. This makes Glyn the nation’s most senior public servant and follows his two successful stints in similar roles in the Queensland Public Service under Wayne Goss and Peter Beattie. Glyn is greatly admired for his skill as an administrator and will bring into the heart of government a deep knowledge of the higher education sector.

There have been many milestones and achievements across the University over the past month, and I have valued the opportunity to visit many of our campuses and communities in this time – especially for regional graduation ceremonies, which only seem to get better and better with each year.


Regional graduation ceremonies

Everyone who attends a La Trobe graduation ceremony departs in a good mood. There is perhaps no better event in the University calendar to remind us why we are all here, especially at our regional campuses. It was an absolute pleasure to celebrate La Trobe graduates from our Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton campuses with their families, friends and the La Trobe community.

The first of our graduation ceremonies was in Albury-Wodonga at the start of May, with 80 students celebrating their achievements amongst family and friends after the past difficult few years. Among the graduating cohort were La Trobe’s first 15 graduates from our Bachelor of Biomedicine (Medical), who will continue their studies to become rural doctors with the University of Melbourne in Shepparton.

In Bendigo we celebrated the graduation of 788 students over three days of ceremonies during early May. Similarly to the Albury-Wodonga graduating cohort, our Bendigo graduands included the first cohort of our rural medical pathway students. We also celebrated the graduation of students from the Master of Internet of Things, an innovative Australia-first course launched at our Bendigo campus and developed in collaboration with our industry partners Microsoft and CISCO.

La Trobe’s Mildura campus celebrated the achievement of more than 70 local students across a wide range of courses including Business, Education, Nursing, Social Work, Arts and Early Childhood Education. Impressively, all our graduating registered nurses have secured employment demonstrating the strong ties we have with industry and health service providers in the Mallee and surrounding regions.

Earlier this week, we celebrated a cohort of 100 graduates from our Shepparton campus. Similar to our recent Mildura graduating nursing cohort, a higher than average proportion of this year’s Bachelor of Nursing graduates are male, offering greater diversity to the regional health workforce. I hope that this trend continues.

A huge thanks to our academic and professional staff who have contributed to regional graduation ceremonies in May. They are among the best we’ve had yet, and I look forward to participating in Bundoora and Sydney ceremonies later this year.


Reconciliation Week

To commemorate National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week, and to acknowledge the intergenerational trauma and survival of the stolen generations, La Trobe held a series of events across our campus network, including a moving sunset Ceremony led by Dr Mishel McMahon, Aboriginal Rural Health Coordinator, at our Bendigo campus. Yesterday I attended a Bush Tucker BBQ lunch in the Agora, where staff and students were addressed by Director Indigenous Research and Convenor of Aboriginal Studies, Professor Julie Andrews and enjoyed a musical performance by Ngiyampaa man and First Nations singer-songwriter Brett Lee, or as he is more widely known in musical circles, Pirritu. Thank you also to Wurundjeri Council Elder Uncle Ringo Terrick, who offered the Welcome to Country and led the smoking ceremony, sharing his insights about the role these cultural practices can play in bringing about healing and reconciliation.

I encourage you to take the time to reflect on what we can all do in our daily lives to advance reconciliation and make positive change for the benefit of all Australians. Members of La Trobe’s community can show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island individuals and communities by adding their message to the online La Trobe University Sorry Book.


Closing the gap in maternity care

On the theme of reconciliation, a landmark study led by La Trobe researcher Professor Helen McLachlan and co-lead Professor Della Forster has revealed that maternity care for First Nations mothers and babies can be improved through access to culturally responsive, midwife-led continuity of care. Conducted in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and three Melbourne public hospitals, the findings have been published in the Lancet, eClinical Medicine. The distinct model of care offers a collaborative and coordinated approach for First Nations women, which is more likely to result in positive health outcomes for mothers and babies.


New partnership with Sri Lankan university Horizon Campus

Last Friday I was delighted to join friends and colleagues from La Trobe University and the Horizon Campus in Sri Lanka to celebrate and mark the commencement of a new partnership between our two institutions. We were also honoured to have His Excellency, Mr David Holly, Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka join us for the virtual event.

This is a significant milestone for La Trobe University and our first strategic partnership with a Sri Lankan university. We look forward to working closely with Horizon Campus to expand and create new education pathways and opportunities for Sri Lankan students studying abroad and here at home across our campuses.


Preferred Master Development Partner announced – University City of the Future

We recently announced infrastructure and property development company Plenary as our preferred Master Development Partner, to help us deliver our exciting vision for the University City of the Future project. Plenary will assist us to refresh the Melbourne campus Master Plan and accelerate implementation of the project to help transform and reimagine our Bundoora campus into a vibrant precinct with world-leading facilities and local services. The project will set La Trobe on a path of renewal, while delivering social and economic growth for the University and wider community.


Success on the court

Congratulations to the La Trobe University Women’s Basketball team for winning the inaugural University Basketball League title last week in front of a home crowd at our new Sports Park Stadium. After remaining undefeated in all 12 of their matches during the regular season, the Eagles continued their dominance and held off the University of Sydney to secure the Grand Final win, 61-54. Our Men’s basketball squad also capped off a strong season and reached the UBL Men’s finals before going down to the University of Sydney in their Semi-Final.

As the 2022 Women’s University Basketball League national champions, the Eagles have earned the right to travel to Taiwan later this year to represent UniSport Australia in a worldwide exhibition series against Chinese Tapei universities. We wish them well in their preparations and look forward to cheering them on later in the year.

Congratulations to our undefeated La Trobe Women's Basketball team who have won the University Basketball League's national championship. The League final was hosted at our new Sports Park Stadium.


Bendigo Writers Festival

La Trobe, in partnership with the City of Greater Bendigo, has delivered another exceptional Bendigo Writers Festival over four days in mid-May. The 2022 program featured a contingent of La Trobe academics, including Associate Professor Dr Andrea Carson, Bendigo Campus Director Dr Julie Rudner, Dr David Azul and many more, with the La Trobe Art Institute and our Bendigo Library hosting several events.

La Trobe is a proud partner of the annual event, and we recognise the opportunities for people of all ages to celebrate storytelling, established and emerging writers and the power of literacy. Well done to Bendigo Campus Director Dr Julie Rudner and her team for leading La Trobe’s involvement in the 2022 Festival.


REDI Fellowships for medical research awarded

Two La Trobe staff members have been awarded sought after Fellowships under the Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) program managed by MTPConnect, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to accelerate the rate of growth of the Australian medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.

Congratulations to Professor Brian Abbey from the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science and Dr Darcelle Thompson, Manager of Business Development and Commercialisation in the Industry Engagement portfolio, who will have the opportunity to gain valuable commercial and industry experience over the next twelve months to bring their research projects to life.

Professor Abbey, who led a project over the last five years to develop an innovative microscope slide known as NanoMSlide, will undertake a 12-month project with global cancer diagnostics company Leica Biosystems and work on the commercialisation of a new nanotechnology platform for assessing difficult-to-diagnose cancers. Dr Thompson will undertake a 12-month project with global biotech company CSL Limited to develop commercial and business development skills and build relationships with CSL’s research innovation team.


2022 Career Practitioners’ Conference

After almost two years of virtual conferences and events, it was terrific to host 200 career practitioners and secondary school leaders from across Melbourne and regional Victoria on campus in Bundoora for the 2022 Career Practitioners’ Conference. The conference provided an opportunity to highlight the development and delivery of our new, attractive and more flexible course offerings and pathways for prospective students including La Trobe by You, Aspire and our Diploma pathways.

Many thanks to our academics who presented on the day, and to Dr Stacey Farraway and Natalie Ellisdon and their respective recruitment, events and marketing teams for making the conference a remarkable success.


Dry July 2022

Next month the Dry July fundraiser kicks off to encourage people to go alcohol-free for a month to raise funds to support people affected by cancer. The funds raised provide invaluable health and support services for cancer patients and their families. I salute Jessica Vanderlelie and Mark Smith who have both volunteered to take part – keep an eye out for more details that will be circulated soon.


In closing

That’s it for another month and a busy first Semester at La Trobe in 2022. Stay safe and well through these colder months and I look forward to seeing you at our next All Staff webinar in a few weeks’ time.

John